Ivan Altunin

Research Experience Director

Staff Scientist

Ivan Altunin enjoys everything and anything that is not on the ground – from astronomy to flying, to SCUBA diving. He is a member of the UC Berkeley undergrad class of ’24 and plans to major in Astrophysics and Computer Science with his main interest being in cosmology. His current research experience includes the areas of exoplanets, double stars, eclipsing binaries, and microlensing. In his free time, you can find him SCUBA diving near his home in Lake Tahoe as a certified rescue diver or soaring up above holding both a glider and powered private pilot’s license (Real pilots need no engines!).
An updated list of publications can be found here:


Reed Estrada

Staff Scientist

Former B-52 pilot, current Northrop Test Pilot working at Edwards Air Force Base, CA. Treasurer for the Institute for Student Astronomical Research. MBA in Airline Management, MS in Engineering, BS in microbiology, as well as several other Engineering and Aviation degrees.  Worked with telescopes and amateur astronomy for 30 years including many projects with and Russ Genet and the Fairborn Institute. 

Russ Genet

Staff Scientist


Russ is currently the Director of the Fairborn Institute and a Research Scholar in Residence at California Polytechnic State University. He has over a half-century of experience in scientific research, engineering development, and student education. Russ developed rocket guidance systems in the early days of the space age. As an instrument-rated commercial pilot and instructor, he pioneered the development of networked flight simulators for training fighter pilots. Russ’ development of robotic telescopes and automated observatories in the 1980s revolutionized astronomical research. He initiated the Astronomy Research Seminars in 2001 which, to date, have produced over 200 published papers coauthored primarily by high school and undergraduate students. The Fairborn Institute’s robotic telescope is used almost nightly by remotely-located students for their published research. Russ’ research on cosmic evolution—the synthesis of physical, biological, and cultural evolution—was summarized in his 2007 book, Humanity: The Chimpanzees Who Would Be Ants. Russ lives on California’s Central Coast with his wife, Cheryl, who teaches philosophy and world religions at Cuesta College.

Education: BS Electrical Engineering, University of Oklahoma; MS Logistics Management, Air Force Institute of Technology; and Ph.D. Astronomy, Union Institute, and University.

Teaching: mathematics, science, or engineering at Muskingum Area Technical College, Central Arizona College, Cuesta College, Northern Arizona University, and California Polytechnic State University.

Publications: Author or co-author of two dozen books and over 200 papers, primarily in the area of astronomy. See NASA Astrophysical Data System at http://ads.harvard.edu/ and type in Genet, Russell, or go directly to: https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/search/fq=%7B!type%3Daqp%20v%3D%24fq_database%7D&fq_database=database%3A%20astronomy&q=author%3A(%22genet%2C%20russell%22)&sort=date%20desc%2C%20bibcode%20desc&p_=0 

Richard Harshaw

Educational Advisor

    Richard holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Education (Mathematics / Physics) from Central Missouri State University where he graduated in 1973.  
    Born and raised in Missouri, he now resides in Cave Creek, Arizona (a suburb of Phoenix).
   His exploits in astronomy began 60 years ago when he purchased a second-hand 60mm alt-azimuth refractor from a friend.  Over the years, he worked his way up to a 4.5” reflector, then an 8-inch SCT, and his present scope, an 11-inch SCT.  His main interest is speckle interferometry of close double stars.  But he is also an avid galaxy hunter and enjoys star clusters and planetary nebulae.  
   He has had several articles on double stars published in journals and has a book published by Springer Publishing, the Complete CD Guide To The Universe, released late in 2006.  He has also contributed about 6,000 measurements of double stars to the Wash-ington Double Star Catalog (his observer code is HSW).  He is presently working on speckle interferometry on extremely close binaries, having done observing runs at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, AZ, The Discovery Telescope in Happy Jack, AZ, the 100-inch Hooker Telescope at Mt. Wilson Observatory in Los Angeles, and other observa-tories.
   Richard was an active member of the Astronomical Society of Kansas City for many years and served three terms on the Board of Directors. He was a key holder for the Society’s 30-inch Ruisinger Reflector in Louisburg, KS, and frequently presented pro-grams at Powell, public events, and the general meetings.
   In Phoenix, Arizona, he joined the Saguaro Astronomy Club and served two years as its president and the newsletter editor and Secretary.
   Asteroid 2000 EF116 was named for him (26586 Harshaw) by the Catalina Sky Survey team.
   From his backyard (Montevista Observatory), he frequently observes double stars (over 26,000 now logged) and brighter deep sky objects under reasonably dark suburban skies.

Amber Mistry


Staff Scientist

Amber Mistry is someone who loves to see and learn things from different perspectives, regardless if she's looking far out into the universe or whats at her feet. Amber is a current senior at Oxbridge Academy. She will be joining Georgia Tech’s Class of ’25 and is looking to major in mechanical engineering. Her current research experience includes double stars and RR Lyrae. Amber also has experience in computer science with multiple languages. In her free time, she loves playing or watching soccer (football), learning random facts, and earning the title of a foodie. 

Current Publication:


Sophia Risin

Staff Scientist

Assistant Webmaster

Sophia Risin is a sophomore at Stanford Online High School and interested in trying to understand the universe from both a philosophical and astrophysical perspective. Her current research experience includes the areas of exoplanets and double stars as well as statistics. She is also involved as the logistics director for the STEAMpark teen board as well as tutors students locally. She is also a National Center for Women and Information Technology certificate of distinction winner and  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends, going on walks with her dogs, and learning new things.

Current publications:


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